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Wole Soyinka Education. (2012) 'Of Africa.'

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Africa 14, Iraq 9, Us 6, United States 4, Michael Gordon 4, New York 4, Nigeria 3, Dr. Soyinka 3, Africans 3, Koran 3, Brazil 3, Cicada 2, Randy Weston 2, Unesco 2, Mr. Gordon 2, Jonathan 2, America 2, Jesus 2, Somalia 2, Baghdad 2,
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   Education.  (2012) 'Of Africa.'  

    December 30, 2012
    9:45 - 11:00am EST  

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thank you. [applause] >> is there a nonfiction author or book you'd like to see on tv quick send us an e-mail or tweet us at twitter.com/booktv. >> up next, nigerian nobel prize-winning author wole soyinka talks about the history of africa and the challenges facing the continent today. this is about an hour and 10 minutes. >> thank you very much, thank you. thank you, and good evening. i hope that you're not expecting a formal lecture. this will be a conversation. a few minutes ago i have understood some people were
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expecting a formal lecture. it doesn't matter, we will have a conversation. and i thought, well, like some introductory remarks about the book and begin by asking the question, which i post myself, why this book, ma "of africa," how did it come about? that is to say, why did i write this book. i didn't really write a. i just putting down a continued conversation, continuing discourse which i've engaged most of my life. but if you want examples of what's immediate instance of the kind of encounters that led inevitably to putting down notes on the subject matter of the book, tries quite a bit of french. let's just take the religious side. within the green room just now,
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i saw on the wall a poster, announcing i think the lecture by doctors, and the title is the greatest show on earth. and above i saw my the author of the god delusion, the god delusion. very strange to think there in certain parts of the world today, for daring to put up such a poster, much less admitting to being the author of such a book, the god delusion. you might be stoned to death or put to death in any other way. for blasphemy. second incident begins with today. i was speaking to a young lady
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and she was telling me about her experience also lamenting the prejudiced extremists very intolerant prejudices that taking place among the various religious institutes of the world. she said i grew up in an environment which was christian, people who follow their christian religion. others african superstitions. and for me this went to the heart of why the book became inevitable, or why for me gave me discourse all my life. very strange. i started today pretty close to 80. i should actually exist in an environment in which for leading
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what i believe or not believing what i do not believe of considered one of what i call terminal censorship. now, go back to history, and i don't just mean the person. i'm talking about the society in which i live, in which i was raised, the history of my people. as i never ate in "of africa," when the european explorers -- when i'm there rate in "of africa," the christian missionaries came to africa on the mission of conversion. we had a very serious problem. and that was we couldn't find satan. they couldn't find the devil. if you want to convert people, you've got to first or persuade them that their soul is in dire danger. headed for the ultimate bonfire on the other side of existence.
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and for that, you need to label them followers of the devil. diabolical human beings. so they look for the devil, and looked among the deities, a very complex religion, very elaborate, very wel well structd it and it looked among the do you tease and they found issue, a dod called issue. i often refer to issue as the imminent dialect vision of the human condition. why do i call him that? issue is an unpredictable spirit. issue exists, teach humanity. there's always more than one side, more than one face to any
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reality, to give you the winner of a parent is, the best laid plans. the best laid plans of mice and men, the issue is the embodiment of the lesson embedded in such things. [inaudible] being dogmatic about an issue. it tends to do it, you, like a good teacher. symbolic for adults who have learned wisdom, looking at both sides of the question. and his places on the crossroads where of course the place where human beings get confused. so mischievous that he's not allowed in the house.
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issued in the house is just too temperamental. and before you do anything in your barren region, even before you worship any of the deities you make sure you understand a morsel for issue. issue is written messenger of the deities. he can deliver the message strict. is always there waiting may deliver it in a way without lying. that makes you misinterpret the message but that's because he has another part. so when the missionaries came and looked at this among the other deities, the god of lightning, the god of the rivers, the god of purity, the god of war, what we call the god of moist elements, et cetera, et cetera, that's the issue. that's the answer. the person who upsets, he won't plan, that's the devil. so issue became a christian, the devil.
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even in -- translation of the bible, issued is anything but evil. that is true. on the contrary, you will find a symbol of issue because it is he also who else them to interpret, defy the scriptures of wisdom, from the college, all the wisdom is bound up in the verses -- [inaudible] the definer resides. so issue is anything but the devil. but today, it's sort of painful defined one's own countrymen and women refer the issue of the devil. by contrast, look at what happens to issue when he moved
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with his slaves to latin america. arrived with knowledge that issue was feared by the christian missionaries. the slaves adopted issued as the patron dod, just to scare the christians who wanted them to convert. became symbol of resistance in latin america and america's. in fact, it went beyond the. in certain parts of brazil, for instance, you find that issue has even been elevated to the supreme dod, simply because that was a symbol that was there, protagonists for freedom. so you find the transposition across the atlantic, not minor but certainly became not only a
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symbol of resistance in the new world, but the supreme deity in certain parts of brazil. on the contrary if you go to the heart by and of brazil and to go to a shrine, the hierarchy is quite plain. but in certain other parts, issue became supreme deity. now consider today, this is the history in africa. and this goes back a couple of centuries. now imagine that today, to be a follower of that religion is virtually to earn the death sentence in certain parts of nigeria. christians also earn a death
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sentence in certain parts of nigeria. and, of course, among christians bought in kind -- but the level of tolerance based on ignorance has reached such a pitch that you open favors anytime today in nigeria, you find a church has just been burned down, worshipers have been machine-gunned, a mosque has just been burned down, worshipers bombed afterwards. because you, even within the religion they are different grades of purity. one side considers the other side not sufficiently peace, and, therefore, deserving what i call terminal. the institution is more complicated. it is, in fact, -- is never one
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single issue that needs total capitalization of society. politics entered into the. corruption, all of these are parts of the growth, the lightning, the area of mayhem. when the politicians want power, we have no scruples whatsoever. they can utilize and they do utilize many differences whether ethnic or religious right now. the growing principle of the profession is religion. we have very strange political system, because i'm moving now on to the northern nigeria. you have read of the book.
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[inaudible] equipment of an education. schooling, anything at all, anything outside the koran is -- [inaudible] it is very easy to mobilize the youth who sit at the feet of the moon law at the schools and to take orders, who believe that [inaudible]. of the cleric in charge. the politics of nigeria became complicated, simply because of something the british did. they were not satisfied.
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there had to be dissension, division in the sense of the political power in the country. so when the british left, before the left they created -- [inaudible] and naturally they wanted closest to their viable or already practicing a kind of structure, which is close to what the british practice at the time until later in the year. and so they not only falsified the elections that followed, preceded independence. they falsified even consensus. now, if you check the annals of home office, so-called home office, which is where the colonies are ministered, look
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for the book of harold smith was one of the civil service in nigeria at the time. he was in the white house and he got into trouble because he not will -- he did not want to carry out those orders. but falsification of the first elections. ..
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which is staged -- that is southern southerners from the eastern part. through three peso, a countercoup and then that eventually to the secession of the eastern part because they were the largest terms. there were singled out for having initiative and for the guilty of killing some of the northern leaders. there's no disputing that fact. and so is restored to the countercoup at the north we suffered in nigeria at a home many decades of military rule. from the very kindly as we see nigeria to to the service of a
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theatre world. the next resident in nigeria was a military man he been president of the south. remember when the british left, the left power. after the military left however, however, the ruling party however in 30 bits of code, which was just the same as the british left behind, power named in the north. powers just want to the south for a few years. this is not very palatable but unfortunately the president of the nation who took over was a
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very sick man of the race issue brought that went on for ages. i won't bore you with other. but for six months nigerians didn't know whether they were ruled by ghosts are human beings. it is really the trauma that went on. so eventually succumbed to nature and the presidency style after the constitution of the vice president who was a southerner. the tradition has been upheld within the ruling perdue vetoed it inserted that cause the power would rotate it to you the south. he was a southerner and power permits setting out after lots
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of turbulent shenanigans, should it be called president, beattie resident, anything other constitution because they wanted power for being a good eventually he took over as president and went on in his right to contest elections. i know elections are like that part of the world. the foregone conclusion became president. power was slipping away further further from the north. when a speaker at the north they want to be careful to emphasize, but they do talk of a hard-core northern is to have the very concept of democracy and the fuller sense is complete who
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manipulate himself into the various courtesy said society and want to ensure it is in the hands of the most corrupt, and personal parts, the northerners. so i don't use expressions like the north, picture confronted by a very determined mafia, northern mafia who remained with them. so this president of nigeria who sworn into power, who's sitting there for four years and then rumblings began to go for a second term. this hard-core looked at what was happening at and to ensure there is no repeat of the last
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mistake. that was when they screwed in the religious incitement, said to thinking come in we are in danger. they want to take over power and stay there forever. to somalia to mauritania and mitterrand sent to afghanistan. until eventually the religious movement in nigeria became allied to al qaeda. this note is an admission which the government has been reluctant to make, but reflects actuarially. so there you have a volatile cocktail of politics and
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religion because the weapon, the motivation of the soldiers is to create an islamic state in nigeria. it's not something anybody troon says. it's the cds crossing each other and centrists we want an islamic state. in fact, one of the leaders went so far when the government's political leaders were proposing amnesty and so on. the secretion into that convert everyone to sit down and negotiate with him. and so each time you hit the government said please come talk to us, we will listen now. you said it so often and they know very well what the motivation is. that is the reason for the devastation of the north today,
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a kind show in which after years of independent, certain sections of the country considered the rest non-muslims, whether they're christian, whatever as subhuman. disposable material. a very interesting thing happened, however. some of these recent effort training came back holier than their masters. in other words, were fully indoctrinated, fully ideologist in the ligament tears and say wait a minute, look at them and their mansions, their suvs, on private jets. this is not what we were taught. these are enemies of this on. since citizens become calm
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updated by this i do mentors became some of the frontline of the dems. primarily it's church is institutions, libraries, media that includes biological means of communications. they realized they couldn't communicate with mobile spirit somebody among them said, listen, how are you going to communicate. the killings continue. the churches, mosques, because some of the mosques are considered infidels. they belonged to the own side of things. so all of those began to bring to a boil the whole essence of
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religiosity, just for role in human beans and in any case, where's the religion considered more valid than others? is the ignorance of the other religions, which i know exists or not merely the outsiders, it among their own people. there are those that collect -- [inaudible] and so on. a worker came to his house one day that the problem problem was upstairs and went upstairs. this is in the heart of lagos. so they went up stairs, it a few months later came down the blood
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of jesus, the blood of jesus, the blood of jesus. so if one is looking, what's the problem. he went there and saw carbons of the various deities, but because they were not by the kosovo, they were works of the devil. this is encounters both on the common level, the absurd level of the tragic level, which is really where we are today. an institution where these holy warriors, good institutions and movies went to the school. they had a list. they taken the trouble to penetrate and collect a list and because the students one by one and shut them, 46.
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i try as hard as i can to be as evenhanded as possible in the book that these are issues which agitate one rightly i think. a fair trial to be as balanced as possible. i can claim that because i have a feeling that if the book in the process because the book sometimes begin even the printing process for some of you know he can begin and take two years. before the book had come out, send it since it had been, specifically what it said had taken place, which was when too many. i would've added at least
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another paragraph and that may not have been so nice because the institution where certain religions want to privilege themselves to the extent of assuming the power of life and death, the ayatollah khomeini did with u.s. sentence in fatwa and salman rushdie is one of the most i've accept both a. one cannot believe that happened in the last century. and it is that spirit of arrogant intolerance, which has contributed to the need to write because it goes beyond religion and politics and principles of justice and executes justice, who pronounces justice and for what at what cost. i participated to the united
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nation to new york come to one of these peace conferences, dialogue of cultures, dialogue religions come the salon and so forth, shortly after he felt was made in the united states. and this of course it again led to killings all over the world. everybody backing down their hatches. the question i asked myself, what contributed to this looks? why is it that anyone religion considers that it is so sacrosanct it cannot be common to john either through film or theater in the public domain is
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subject to public comment tree. for any religion to claim the sacrosanct duty is the same mentality that denigrated other religions in their time, but now has assumed universal and political proportions. some bullish register in far-off denmark splashes the image is of profit a hundred in the cartoon to send in nigeria is flattered. this level of empowerment has become -- seems to have become except the boat, so one needs at this time to start propagating as much existence of other religions to have this kind of conduct is an abomination.
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there's too much tolerance they think of the intolerable, to misquote, i'm a political correct this, an excuse for the moral conduct of political correctness. that really seems to be crude and the democratic will and the ethical will of most of the world these days. the descent and within africa, what is most grotesque about it is african religions have been suffering this computer incursion in the early missionaries, early explorers and earlier colonialists. they are not considered religion. they are not considered even worthy of being offended in any way. baathists religions are all propolis sensation, asked forgiveness from them for
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becoming their compulsive spokesperson. [inaudible] are going to the principal. we shall now have a discussion. thank you. did i keep to the time that promised? >> hi, the decent gentleman. i think you know how this works. raise your hand. we look at the microphone right to you. the conservatives gentleman in the fourth row here. >> dr. soyinka, thanked his features for less and it's an articulate articulate spokesman for human rights and human justice that we have for 18 today. [applause] and i would like your take on a
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report that i saw yesterday on cnn that there is pending legislation in nigeria to outlaw homosexuality and then went on to reflect that by interviewing or archive people in the street date it in fact reflects that the majority opinion of the citizen to the country. >> well, okay, i've just completed an article, which will go out than a media in response to this legislative this adventure. it was first noted as a matter of fact sometime early last year and people made responses. i made mine, too. i made mine, too. people had decided it was best suited for the love until it
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resurfaced just a couple of weeks ago. i'll be publishing the article very soon. it's for me human conduct, personal, private, human conduct between consenting adults is no business between government and its ridiculous that the government should consider itself -- there's no difference between that and what we're talking about the vigilante, like his brother is now watching you. it's no different for somalia, when the islamic council is still in power, al-shabaab ordered the cutting of him if they shook and with that woman. i find absolutely no difference between the two. what is particularly absurd
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thing, which i'm reminded of my article is hypocrisy not so long ago of a senator who import to an underage girl for each of, literally bought this girl from her father who is a driver, brought her into nigeria, and married her from school and sent the girl that the school. no velocity checked definitely for a bit this underage marriage. the loss of nigeria for big this kind of conduct. it turned out intact. but this is a man, a serial, and married them yelled and then got another younger one. the scream their heads off, but that made until today, a senator
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is never prosecuted. anything the koran says i should do i look cute. everything the koran doesn't say i should do what i would do. and nowhere does the koran say i cannot. underage girl. across the loss of two countries. i believe stronger is mostly superior to the constitution. but important things until today must not be prosecuted. so they have no moral authority to promulgate this. >> another questioncoming desk of the gentleman, six rows back. >> thank you, dr. soyinka. i believe we can see the correlation equals conversation. but one of the things for religion is most countries have actually kept here are compared
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with development right now. they are far superior in better -- [inaudible] christianity, islam and if you look generally, they tend to be more proper, more developed. i just like your comment about it. >> i missed the last part. [inaudible] >> i believe that religions are problematic as an issue, very problematic, but fortunately, religion or type two cultures and those who are immersed in
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the religion means they are also culturally tied to their roots. and it's only when you are culturally rooted that she become creative and i don't mean just in humanities, but even scientifically. the japanese can see how far advanced they've been in the sciences. the chinese religion to today did flirt with communism for a number of years, but they turned it became capitalists because basically they are all from the cultures of creativity. so i agree with you. one which i forgot to mention was the cicada craze of the religion with christianity when the slaves went to the americas and found themselves being banned from studying and
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following their religion. they say yes master, we won't follow the old religion, but they just substituted the same for their deities. so until today you'll find shock of the, shall coup, one of the ceiling fan rbd at the candles, et cetera, et cetera. they went through that cicada craze and even evolved to mean simply created images of their deities and stylized mode so that they could claim that this figure stood for the same because that is how accomplished they were creating to human beings. until today you find this a
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credit freeze existing, but also there is another phase, which is very, very prominent, where there was a revolt that was christianity, go away. and today you'll find all of the deities in their original splendor and separatism from states. so even the religion itself, like culture, has members that. >> ask of a and that they are a double moved frontier. >> hello, professor soyinka. as a second-generation consumer of culture, i find myself sort of representative of this. [inaudible] >> consumer of your culture. my mom was a student of yours
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that the university of eisai but said sander, the children with only consumed more from a fiction. in your book, you've actually made a statement where he said as long as we continue to fictionalize the event and experiences of africa, we are doomed to repeat the kind of repetition and assert perpetuates the same problems were having. can you comment a little bit on how we assist you generation can reconnect to the essence of our culture that allows us, maybe it anyway carreon, maybe regain something we've lost? >> well, the question is, what would you say is your religion today? are talking about the second-generation, right? and especially those who wanted to dias pereira, who are exiled?
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from the origin. well, the question you have to ask yourself, to a religion do you feel attached? if you're christian, to be, if you feel christian, secretion. if you feel nussbaum, then there's the nation of islam in the united states. i know of a number of people from the caribbean and the americas who have made pilgrimages home to find out just what is the essence of their spirituality, which deity represented and answers that they feel it by the spiritual beings. whether we are the just are not to a large extent, there's a small fraction of those who are spiritual beings. so many people think the structure of that spiritual
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feeling. been so it's religion. you should never hesitate. i find quite honestly all religions equal. all religions have some thing to offer in humanity, whether it's the nature of music are beautiful architecture in the cathedrals, mosques, shrines. these are marvelous of human creativity. music, even of the scriptures can make fascinating reading. whether you are accepted or not for the arguments that go into building this structure can be very, very riveting. so from that point of view, i don't did you should compare itself to follow the germans simply because it comes from africa, which you'd be losing
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something if he did not at least inquired and see what was there and take a comparative attitude than follow your head. >> may be in the third row. >> can you talk a little bit about good luck jonathan, including race name came from? [inaudible] >> good luck jonathan. one of the things we are very good at in nigeria is names. we have the most fascinating array of names and images from the tradition of languages. the main sleep gods will, godspell, good luck, blessing, there's one religion i have who i absolutely refuse to call. his name is sweetheart.
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[laughter] i don't know you. you're not misread her. give me your traditional name. that's what i'm going to use. i will never call you sweetheart. so many names are literal translation, but good luck -- [inaudible] and so somebody can write from english to say what do i want to say? and so they just give the name. and he was called good luck. who knows what happens. so i don't know. but i think these days, nigerians don't feel.
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>> gentleman to our left about rows back. >> i've read your book many years ago called the open soul on the continent speaking specifically about the execution and the kind of disparity and use of the death penalty in nigeria as compared to the political execution -- [inaudible] the languages of many years been implied. i wondered if you could speak on, and even of the death penalty is not completely outlawed in nigeria, speaking on the extradition of killings has gone by the authorities in some parts of nigeria, particularly in the northeast so called boca
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ahram suspects executed in public places and masses for some cases. >> yeah, that's one huge block. it is, well, it is under military dictatorship as you remember in the particularly brutal kind. it's a messy. in the british religion. some kids were killed, brutally killed by some of the militants and the south, but there is absolutely no evidence he had a
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hand in it. dictators however like to sow fear. that is their main plan. if you do not only organized injustice to do it in the face does international protest, appeals, the dictator wants to ensure that i can do it and therefore i will do it. so that means the rest of you have to take care. if i could do to this when i can do it to the rest of you. it's a principle, the abysmal mindset. the book around situation i should mention has also been compounded by a similar attitude
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on the part of the task force. he's the kind of eventual attitude which is led to the killing of innocent people in the north and unfortunately, this is some big, which most nations undergo time and time again whenever they are confronted by a terrorist movement because there's no other word, no other way to describe. i don't consider them your religious body at all. and many muslims have actually come to denounce them, given those who set these are the champions, not only of our region, but i religion. quite a number of them come around to understand that it's a
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bunch of psychopaths who are however completely wrapped up in their religion. there's no denying that. they really believe it's perfectly normal to kill in the name of religion. to justify the headlines that your in the media they say killian is believing. this book are meant in the eyes of the deity to kill and kill him the most gruesome way possible. so unfortunately, it's one of those situations in which the solution has to be a mixture of political handling, but one of very strong security and trojans work.
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>> greetings. i want to thank you for your scholarship. i think it is important to love with two other recent books of african writers. the first, eloquence that describes and the second, something torn and new. as an african in america, to look to the continent as the source for leahy said, are spiritual beings as the source not only to survive what has happened to africans in the western hemisphere has always been there. one of the things ziskin post to africans on the continent who have in many ways what is spiritual tradition. so the question for me is the
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preservation of these traditions and how do we as africans throughout the world, in the face of a wife that will not last, a face of an arab world that will not last, how do we engage in ensure the ave.'s to our own, like you said in the book, guide to existence and what are the roles of african scholars in preserving these traditions? >> well, there have been many moves within the united states especially among the african-americans here. they returned to sow sometimes complicated by the politics lingering. i remember the fight between the covering is that cultural ideologies in the 80s and 90s and so on.
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but if you want to talk about real cultural armory, it basco and i think that african-americans realize they must go beyond simply wearing a shoe dtd, which unfortunately was the local of which many took african culture, the various cultures from which they could draw source. the sun into an academic brown, already went beyond symbolism and the kids of the material. it is necessary to quarry in two spirituality, i btwo spirituality, i believe, of any society into it in order to start the valuable and valued
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cultural weapon right within that society. i'm impressed by the consistent the with which the quiet the, the kwanzaa season is celebrated in the united states. i believe it's coming up again in december this year. it is a move in the right direction. but i think a lot greater depth is required in the approach of african-americans. the only way to do it is not just in the classrooms. it's also to seize the opportunity of visiting africa, the real africa, not the french africa, not the arab africa, not the british africa, but there are places on the african continent in which even when european visitors to the end to south africa or some other
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places say yes, now i can see them all, feel, taste africa in those places exist. and to go there and sit at the feet of the leaders, the cultural leaders, spiritual leaders, just to express yourself is almost kind of like awesome essays in which you actually invite the totality. you understand the comprehensive nature of the cultures, which animates such society and from which the artists, the builders, architects, even the true statesmen draw the energy. not simply the opportunistic slogans but the african name tenacity by broderick for the
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personality cult. that's what i'm talking about. just among the people you find in their. and when you come back, you spread the word. you convey the essence of what she would serve. it's the only way it can be done. and of course you have no feeling for its come you have no feeling for you. richard wright came to africa looking for his african roots. he came away saying i don't belong here and pitch perfect and also who is now an ambassador or a western ambassador said ken looked at the negative side and he abandoned hope and ended up being japanese. [laughter] at but expressing yourself, ready to take on the
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experiences. >> just to clarify a point that may have been represented because you are not saying that the west and the arabic realms -- you are saying within africa this influences are ultimately going to dissipate and if the african spirit that will come through, yes? >> are you saying that she said a kind of incompatibility at the moment between the arab culture? >> no, i'm not saying that. i think the gentleman misconstrued what she restated the book. the arab world within africa. i thought of the book you are saying does one not ultimately triumph. that would be the african spirit triumphs. >> yes, very different. this is something we matched us and there's no harm in its richness and stressing that. i don't consider culturally
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speaking, i don't consider that the arab world is identical with the african world. and i believe most arabs guard their culture. they believe it's very unique. some of them not only believe, they actually articulate the spirit to african culture, so they make a distinction anyway. what is happening in sudan today is a political manifestation of that economy. the people occupied the same when asked us not being there are the same. there's nothing wrong in being different. the important thing is to coexist on an egalitarian basis. the moment any suggestion of superiority is one problem weekend. the something more interesting than the fusion of cultures where they confuse, where
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sympathies can emerge. randy weston, one weston, one ot innovative mus3 randy weston, one of the most innovative musicians here took votes from black africa and the maghrib unproduced some beautiful music. also fascinating what he began to do with the melodic lines in the arab world and prednisone sources within the african con events. so there are many levels of which all cultures interact one way or the other, including even the europeans and africa. >> so we have time for one more question. >> welcome to philadelphia, dr. soyinka. we've met twice before. first and dennis burgess introduced in england and iran
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on walnut street chasing you. to remind you that we have not. [laughter] my question is twofold. one, how long do you think it will take world civilization to give africa his proper due in terms of what africa has given the world, how many hundreds of years for that tape? and secondly, what is your feeling about this issue of reparations be paid to people of african descent in the americas further enslavement? >> well, suddenly i know someone i can persuade to buy an ibook. last night because i talk about reparations. the first one is i don't know how long it will take, but the
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loss, the losses the loss of the european world where we take up arms figuratively is when that bubble of ignorance, unawareness is used as a negative tool in relationship with the african continent. but how how long it took, for instance, for unesco, which is the guardian of the world heritage, cultural heritage, et cetera, et cetera to start recognizing the cultural heritage of minority societies, minority to the european world and designating them part of world civilization heritage, including the religion, which had been talking about. even recognizing the fact there are some things called intangible heritage of the world
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societies which have no culture do not thereby like a cultural civilization. this is a policy, which unesco now firmly not only adheres to, but promote in its recognition and designation of a number of formally, breakout and nigeria, cultural aspects. the second one, and of course the first is an exponential increase and cultural exchanges between african war, for instance consistently. preparations, for me reparations for centuries. i have proposed once before,
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addressing the world bank and thought out these reparations once and for all senses going to be with us for a long time. why don't people get together and return all the artifacts, which he saw from the african content on transcontinental forget the whole thing. just return everything and then we'll talk. what bothers me about some of the exponents of reparations, the approach they take is because once you launch any topic, any issue in public discourse, you must be prepared for their executions of whatever proposition it is. you cannot blame yourself to someone does is raise. you cannot pretend. you cannot in other words, just try and silence those who say wait a minute, you also took
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part in the sale of your own people. he took part in hunting them down. you created artificial wars so you would more slaves to sell to the european and you just got to admit that. it is a fact of history. the evidence is there a contact. there were memories that descendents of those who do what families who sold down. but then, when they talk about reparations, the very fact of being culpable in your own misfortune, even a mod does necessarily mean you are not thereby entitled to redress under the law. the redress might take a different form. your life to confess with the window at night and if these caveman, but if they take more than you agreed they should
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take, they think they have a right to say that they broke the bargain and so on. but especially i do is keep reminding people, you still have those, the spiritual heirs of those slave traders among us, ruling us at exploiting us that it's necessary to point to them and see you, you were one of those so to people overseas. >> well, i wish we were at date on a happier topic, but please join me in thanking dr. wole soyinka. [applause]
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>> you're watching tv on c-span 2 under at the national press club for its annual authors night and we are joined by michael gordon of "the new york times." endgame is his most recent book. >> it took me three years. it's the first comprehensive history of the war in iraq and what makes it unique is that incorporate not only use of american policymakers, but i talk to iraqi leadership. administer maliki, president
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talabani, rivals, adversaries so that the iraqi account as well as what's happening on the battlefield. i basically covered the war in iraq for "the new york times" for the whole conflict. i tried to put it all together in one book. >> why did you call it "the endgame"? >> well, because it's about the endgame of american military involvement and i spent the last third of the book cover and the obama administration. it's not been well covered by the media in terms of what his policy was in iraq. i actually learned a lot doing it. during the campaign, president obama talked a lot about the goal and certainly took out the troops here but i discovered in doing the book is actually the administration's own policy object is in iraq, don't object is far beyond the troops and
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extended to remaking the iraqi government and creating a power-sharing arrangement. it included a failed effort to negotiate an agreement so americans forces could stay in iraq in some numbers. >> failed agreement. >> they try to negotiate when i told a story. having failed, they claim credit for taking the troops out. but initially they did negotiate something to keep a modest number of troops, initially 10,035,004 whole variety of reasons it didn't work out. but he covered the start of the war and the middle of the war in the endgame for the military involvement. >> michael gordon, you covered the entire iraqi war for "the new york times." the one point they own a house over there or renting a house in baghdad. what was that like? >> yeah, we had a house -- the new york times is ever in the
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green zone. it was always an event to. it is not a bad place actually, but of his heavily fortified with glass walls, with a fairly large security contingent almost entirely iraqi. one breaks and iraqi machine guns. it is probably better defended than the american diplomat in the gaussian i mean that seriously. but it turned out not to be necessary. but i didn't spend all that much time because i did a lot of them have different wording, but i passed through there and they've been shifted it to a different location. they maintained the up there with armored cars, full-time iraqi staff. there's a fairly extensive endeavor for the newspaper. >> mr. gordon is life for any americans still in iraq still class was an armored cars? >> is improved. i was there not this last summer, but to summer before to
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see prime minister maliki and i went into the street with all iraqis, got out of the car, went to a demonstration, went to a store. i wouldn't linger in some of the more contested neighborhoods. if you went into sadr city, you want to make sure you have security. it is better than a was before come a million times better than 06 and 07 and from a military perspective, the search did drive down the level of violence. it's going to made it possible for american forces to leave, but there's a lot of unsettled political issues, including the worrisome trend towards authoritarianism by the iraqi government. >> michael gordon's new book, "the endgame: the inside story of the struggle for iraq, from george w. bush to barack obama." mr. gordon, it's november 2012 right now. how many americans are in iraq as we speak?
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>> there's no american troops were many military functions are there's 200 odd person out who succumbed to the embassy and their primary duty is to sell american military equipment to the iraqi government, f-16s and the like as an act taché function. then there's a fairly sizable american embassy, which is contracted by the state department, reduced by 25%. but what you don't have the mesa consulate and kurdistan and a consulate outside of boston in southern iraq, that the united states has really lost a lot of situational awareness of what is happening in iraq because you don't have anything like the kind of footprint that it used to have. iraq is still a strategically vital country. it's one of the largest oil reserves. it's our producing a random terms of oil. they strategically located between persia and the arab
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countries. it's a strategically important place. turkey, iran, or countries and united states are all battling for influence in iraq now. that's the drama going on. >> do you foresee a normal relationship with iraq, where we could -- people to travel there, et cetera, safely? >> well, there's still american business interests iran-iraq. if you could occur to stanford sandwiches, such as separate country, there is not a serious security threat. he stay in a hotel, travel around come to take a taxi. i did a commercial different arbel to baghdad. that portion is fairly stable. but i would say the rest of iraq can get around there. it's certainly better than it was during the war, but i wouldn't travel there without some security from the iraqi government or by a private security.
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>> michael gordon covered the war for "the new york times" and "the endgame" is his newest book. this is booktv on c-span 2.